• Full schedule of services now on site at Hengrove
• GP access and cancer treatment remain unmet local priorities
• MP urges local people to continue to speak out
Hospital campaign MP Karin Smyth has welcomed South Bristol Community NHS Hospital’s encouraging progress over the past year, but says more needs to be done to ensure it better meets the health needs of her constituents, citing access to GP services as a continuing priority.
The Labour MP has previously raised concerns about under-use of the Hengrove hospital, which opened in 2012 and is run by University Hospitals NHS Bristol Foundation Trust. It is now operating a full schedule of services, but having co-ordinated efforts with the local community to ensure the building is better used, Karin Smyth wants her constituents to continue to speak up about further improvements they want.
Last autumn she highlighted that many south Bristol residents were still battling through city traffic to hospitals and health facilities elsewhere in Bristol. Meanwhile parts of the building were under-used and many people were unaware of the services available on their doorstep. In recent months she has held a series of consultations and meetings involving constituents and Health Trust managers, seeking to better use its capacity.
The hospital is now running a full schedule of services on site, with a series of successes, including:
• Significantly more outpatients are being seen at Hengrove compared with a year ago, including children’s clinics
• Clinic use now stands at 90 per cent or higher
• The on-site urgent care centre, run by Bristol Community Health, is now treating an average of 3,000 patients a month
• There has been an expansion of the Older People’s Rapid Assessment Clinic, an initiative that aims to keep older people out of A&E
• More people are using the hospital’s dental services
• The Trust is now looking to establish outreach clinics at Hengrove from the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre
“South Bristol NHS Community Hospital is a precious asset, and its value is becoming clearer to more and more people every day,” said Karin Smyth.
“The building provided an excellent foundation for success, but I have been concerned for some time that it was under-used. My community survey backed this up, with nine out of ten local people wanting more services introduced there.
“There are pleasing signs of positive progress, but those I represent continue to have serious concerns about their experiences getting to see a GP, and having to travel to Southmead for a cancer-related appointment.
“These are real priorities for south Bristol people so, whilst it’s good that the Hengrove hospital has now become a key part of Trust and commissioner thinking, local priorities must be central to future planning.
“We know that Tory government cuts to NHS funding lie ahead, so I cannot stress too highly the importance of south Bristol residents, my constituents, continuing to have their say about their local hospital, because this will be key to shaping further improvements.
“South Bristol people fought for over 50 years to get a hospital in our area so it needs to fulfil its potential.”
People wanting to get in touch with Karin Smyth to give their thoughts are asked to do so by email or by writing to Karin Smyth MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.